Joshua 4:1-5:1 (Part 2) – Doing Things God’s Way

Posted: May 29, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 4:1-5:1 (Part 2 of 3)

Memorials to the Jordan Crossing

Note: Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days. We were at a beach condo that had a horribly unreliable internet connection. Back to Joshua, here we go….

It was the first week of August 2009. I had been living in corporate apartments in various locations since I moved out to California in May 2008. But now, Elena had made the choice to move out to California to be with me instead of us flying back and forth across the country from the Bay Area to the Charlotte area and vice versa. South Carolina was home to me but California is where my job was. Elena had to make a choice. Either continue living in a bi-coastal love affair (long distance relationships are tough emotionally) or move out to be with her man (a move that many would tell her that she was crazy to do). Finally, by early August 2009, she had made arrangements within her company, MPI Labels, to transfer her from MPI Charlotte, NC to MPI Stockton, CA. Then, after a year and a half of flying back and forth across the country to be with one another, we found a town, Livermore, CA, that was halfway in between her job and mine. We finally moved in together in August 2009. We had lived upstairs/downstairs from each other in Rock Hill while we were dating from October 2007 until I moved out to California in May 2008. Then were like rock stars flying back and forth across the country from May 2008 til now, August 2009. Meanwhile, during that cross-country love affair, in February 2009, Valentine’s Day, in fact, I asked her to marry me and she said yes. But we still had not set a date for wedding. We’d worry about that later. Heck, we both had been through two divorces each. If we married, it would be a third marriage for both of us.

 

Wow, it was great. Getting to sleep in the same apartment with my girl. In the same bed with my girl. We were such a cute couple. We much lighter in weight back then. It was great just be together. We would get out every weekend and explore something, somewhere about our new home – the San Francisco Bay Area. Everything was great. We even found a church that we loved. We had become best friend/couple with the pastor and his wife, Luke and Felisha. We had great friends within the church, the Baers, the Hoffmeisters, the Adams. We were always doing something with one or more of the combinations of those folks. We loved downtown Livermore. It was like a miniature Main Street Greenville, SC. We would to eat the little restaurants and pubs there and just walk around in the cool summer evenings. Elena accepted Christ as her Savior and Lord in October 2009 while we were there. After being a baby Christian not wishing to mature far beyond where I was since I accepted Christ as my Savior in December 2001, I began to mature as a Christ follower there. Luke pushed us to be more than just armchair Christians who just sat in the pews and did nothing else. We became tithers while we were there. We got involved in every way in the church. We got so involved that when it was time for this new little church to select its elder council that was to be an advisory council to Luke. I wholeheartedly sent my application into Luke.

 

Then it came. The meeting. It was at Luke & Felisha’s house. Felisha was gone. It was just me and Luke. Luke first talked about how good he felt about me being one of the elders. He admired my passion for the Lord. He admired how perceptive I was about Scripture. Then, he dropped a bomb on me. He said that even though he saw all those good things about me, I could never be an elder in the church. I was shocked. I wanted to know why! He laid it out straight to me. He said, “You can never be an elder in our church because you are living with a woman to whom you are not married. Plain and simple. That’s it. You’re disqualified on that point alone. No matter what else about you is great and makes you qualified to be an elder. This one thing disqualifies you.” He asked me what the Bible said about fornication, because that was what I was doing. He said that sex is reserved for the marriage covenant between a man and a woman and anything else is sin. When you glorify it as you are now, you are not repentant. You are actively sinning and calling what is sin as not sin. You are ignoring whole parts of the Bible so that you can do things your way. I told him that I had already been married twice and was scared to jump into it again. I didn’t want to have another divorce. He said sometimes you have to trust God and do things His way.

 

The idea of doing things God’s way was what came to mind as I read through Joshua 4:1-5:1 for the second time of the three times that we will look at it. Let’s read the passage this morning together:

 

4 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

 

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

 

8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been[a] in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

 

10 Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.

 

14 That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.

 

15 Then the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.”

 

17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.”

 

18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.

 

19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

 

5 Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until they[c] had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.

 

In this passage, we see that the Israelites revered Joshua for his role in leading them across the Jordan River. He, like Moses, would receive Israel’s praise from generation to generation. Although Israel was not a world power at that time (it’s place on the world stage would only come during the reigns of David and Solomon), Joshua’s reputation for handling his responsibilities God’s way brought him greater glory than if he had been a hero in an already established world superpower nation. Doing things the right way, God’s Way, is more important than doing well.

 

The night of that bombshell meeting with Luke was a watershed moment for me. If I was going to grow as a Christ follower, I could not pick and choose what parts of the Bible I was going to obey. I could not say I am going to obey everything else but this area of life right here. It’s my favorite sin. I don’t want to give that up. If we are going to be maturing Christ followers, He is going to point out to us through the Holy Spirit and through the counsel of more mature Christ followers where we need to examine our lives. Where we are doing it our way and not God’s way. We need to examine our lives for our pet sins that we are justifying as OK. We need to examine our lives where we are bending God’s truth to meet our own desires. We need to examine our lives and see where we have made the truth a moving target so as to accommodate the sins that we want to continue participating in. We need to examine our lives for the way we have perverted God’s truth to make our sins OK. We need to examine our lives for the parts of the Bible that we have ripped the pages out just so we do not have to deal with our pet sins for what they are – SINS.

 

If it were not for that bombshell meeting with Luke, Elena and I may have never married. We may have lived in sin for years to come. Because we did not want to make that final commitment to one another. In sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, for when you just don’t feel like loving another person, for those times when you want to give up and walk out the door, for those times when the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence. We are talking commitment to love someone. We are talking about a commitment to do what it takes to meet the needs of another and not just ourselves. We are talking about being fully committed before God to live out the marriage covenant that is a reflection of God’s love for us. He does not throw us away just because we are not as pretty as we once were. He does not throw us a way just because we leave our underwear beside the hamper instead of in it. He loves us always and marriage is a reflection of that.

 

Elena and I married on March 21, 2010 right in the middle of the church service where Luke was preaching about sex and doing it God’s way. It was a beautiful ending to a sermon about doing sex God’s way, about loving your spouse God’s way, about risking our own desires to do things God’s way. About living in God’s way. Elena and have been together almost a decade now and have been married now for 7 years of that. We have been through a lot of stuff together. We will go through a lot of stuff together. But because of some hard words from a friend, we had to examine our lives and decide to do things God’s way. We had to decide to always do things God’s way – not just in the areas that are convenient but in all areas of life. Even the parts where we were scared to do it God’s way.

 

We want to be like Joshua here in this passage. We want to do things God’s way. We want to put Him first in our individual lives and right dead in the center of our marriage. We will face temptations for sure. No matter how old you are there will be temptations that strike at the heart of our marriages. We will face temptations that will strike at the heart of who we are as Christ followers. However, we must be intentional about doing things God’s way. Never forgetting to put Him first in our lives. Never forgetting to examine where Satan will attack us and attack our marriages. We must be willing to repent from those sins that we think nobody notices. We must be willing to repent of those sins that we are not calling sins. Those are the areas that Satan will attack. He will attack where we have twisted the truth to make it OK for us to participate in our pet sins.

 

Are you living life God’s way? Are you living in a sinful way in some part of your life and ignoring God’s Word on that subject? Are you not doing it God’s way? What is your pet sin that you are not calling sin? That is where Satan is reveling in your ignorance of the truth! May we examine ourselves for that which is not of His Word. Let us compare our lives to God’s Word and change and repent and do things God’s way. Let’s be Joshua kind of people!

 

 

Amen and Amen.

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